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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Nick Dunlap's professional debut and Justin Thomas' goal to bounce again at wet Pebble Seaside


The PGA Tour returns to the Monterey Peninsula this week for the AT&T Pebble Seaside Professional-Am, which could have fewer celebrities, extra extremely ranked professional golfers and much more cash on the road.

Because the second of eight signature occasions this season, the pro-am area was lowered from 156 two-man groups to 80 within the no-cut occasion. Which means you will not see Invoice Murray, Ray Romano and different celebrities this week. In truth, you will not see any non-PGA Tour golfers competing on the weekend, because the 80 amateurs will solely play Thursday and Friday, climate allowing.

The event can be being performed on two programs: Pebble Seaside Golf Hyperlinks and Spyglass Hill Golf Course within the first two rounds and solely the previous on the weekend. With a smaller area, the event will not have to make use of Monterey Peninsula Nation Membership.

Whereas there won’t be as many laughs, the precise golf may very well be way more entertaining. Forty-eight of the highest 50 gamers who made the BMW Championship, the second FedEx Cup playoff occasion in 2023, are within the area. Twelve gamers, together with world No. 1 golfer Scottie Scheffler, Ludvig Åberg, Hideki Matsuyama, Collin Morikawa and Cameron Young, are making their 2024 debuts within the occasion.

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Among the many celebrities who’re anticipated to tee it up this week are quarterbacks Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith, receiver Larry Fitzgerald, catcher Buster Posey and nation singer Jake Owen.

Here is what to observe on the PGA Tour this week:

What’s subsequent on the PGA Tour

AT&T Pebble Seaside Professional-Am
When: Thursday-Sunday
The place: Pebble Seaside Golf Hyperlinks, Pebble Seaside, California
Defending champion: Justin Rose
Purse: $20 million ($3.6 million to winner)

Dunlap’s professional debut

Former Alabama star Nick Dunlap, who grew to become the primary beginner in additional than 30 years to win a PGA Tour occasion on the American Specific on Jan. 21, is making his professional debut this week. Dunlap could not settle for the $1.5 million purse at La Quinta Nation Membership, however he’ll get to maintain no matter he wins this week.

One other former Alabama star, Justin Thomas, noticed Dunlap at a dinner in Pebble Seaside on Monday evening.

“He appeared drained,” Thomas informed reporters Tuesday. “He was like, ‘Man, I am so drained.’ I used to be like, ‘Dude, I do not actually care, you ought to be sleeping proper now on the point of go to class tomorrow morning, and I am fairly certain all your teammates would fortunately change with you, so watch out who you say that to.’

“I used to be needling him, giving him a tough time. I talked to him a bit bit final week, simply bear in mind who he’s and keep true to that. I feel it’s extremely straightforward for any rookie, does not matter in the event that they’re 20, 30 or 40, when you will have entry to the tools vehicles, when you will have entry to all these coaches, trainers, caddies, like no matter it’s, it is simple to need to tinker and need to change.”

Dunlap, who turned professional on Jan. 24, earned a PGA Tour card by the 2026 season. He’ll get to play in seven of the eight signature occasions this 12 months, in addition to the Gamers Championship in March.

He additionally certified for 3 of the 4 majors — the Masters, PGA Championship and U.S. Open. He may nonetheless play in The Open at Royal Troon Golf Course in Scotland in July by climbing into the highest 50 of the Official World Golf Rating. He rose from 4,129th to 68th after successful, the largest soar in historical past, and is at the moment ranked 72nd.

Dunlap, 20, is maintaining caddie Hunter Hamrick, who was on his bag on the American Specific. Hamrick met Dunlap for the primary time when Dunlap was caddying for a Korn Ferry Tour participant as a 13-year-old.

“He simply has maturity about him, he is a tough employee and he isn’t scared within the large second,” Hamrick informed ESPN. “He is simply acquired all of the intangibles that make him nice. I imply, loads of individuals can hit the ball fairly straight and hit it far. He does these issues, however that is not what makes him who he’s.”

Hamrick, a former Crimson Tide participant, competed on the PGA Tour in elements of three seasons. He tied for forty sixth on the 2012 U.S. Open and had one top-10 end, a tie for tenth on the 2012 True South Traditional. After bouncing across the Internet.com Tour and different circuits, he was an assistant coach at Alabama in 2021-22 earlier than leaving his alma mater for an insurance coverage job.

Now, Hamrick might need discovered him one other full-time gig in golf.

“I assume weirder issues may occur?” Hamrick mentioned. “Life’s form of unusual. You by no means know what the subsequent flip’s going to take, however we’ll see. It undoubtedly wasn’t the plan, however who is aware of?”

JT is again (perhaps)

The 2022-23 wraparound season is one Thomas wish to overlook. He had simply 4 top-10 finishes in 21 begins on tour, lacking the reduce on the Masters (carded a 78 in second spherical), U.S. Open (81 in second spherical) and The Open (82 in first spherical). He tied for sixty fifth within the PGA Championship.

Thomas, 30, missed the FedEx Cup playoffs for the primary time in his profession and was a controversial captain’s decide for the U.S. Ryder Cup workforce. He fell from No. 8 on the earth at first of 2023 to No. 29 at first of this 12 months.

Thomas lastly began seeing the sunshine in mid-September. He has posted 4 straight top-five finishes in worldwide occasions, together with a tie for third on the American Specific. His final victory got here within the 2022 PGA Championship.

“I am very shut,” Thomas mentioned. “I feel at this level it is simply beginning to win tournaments once more. I really feel like I am very, very near doing that and beginning to do it, you understand, typically once more. However I totally perceive that simply since you assume that does not imply you deserve it or it will occur.”

Thomas mentioned he developed dangerous swing habits final 12 months and could not get away from them. He and his father, Mike Thomas, who’s his swing coach, labored on getting his fingers decrease so his swing wasn’t so steep.

“To be completely sincere, I feel it simply took a bit little bit of time to get out of a few of these,” Thomas mentioned. “Only for me personally, I felt like I examine lots and look lots at outdated swing movies and present [ones]. I perceive that issues change and physique adjustments, so on and so forth, however I nonetheless know there’s sure traits that form of make my swing what it’s, not less than once I’m swinging effectively.”

“I acquired fairly far-off from these final 12 months, so it actually simply took a while to form of get that muscle reminiscence out. It simply took loads of reps. Then as soon as I really feel prefer it acquired into a greater place, it may get extra constant, after which with that comes extra positivity, extra confidence in myself, extra perception in myself.”

The climate forecast is not nice

There’s by no means a foul day at Pebble Seaside Golf Hyperlinks, however the climate will be fairly disagreeable on the Monterey Peninsula this time of 12 months. This week will likely be no exception with forecasts calling for an 80% likelihood of rain Thursday with highs within the low 50s. About three inches of rain is predicted from Wednesday by Friday. It is anticipated to dry out Saturday earlier than one other system pushes in rain Sunday and Monday.

“I feel all of the holes which are uncovered and proper on the shoreline [will be impacted],” Rory McIlroy mentioned. “So, jeez, there’s not many that are not. I might say that [Nos.] 7, 8, 9, 10 stretch goes to be fairly gnarly if the climate is what we’re anticipating. It might probably change and hopefully it does, however yeah, I feel we will have to only knuckle down and get by a few of these powerful stretches.”

Final 12 months, inclement climate plagued the event, and Rose ended a four-year drought and not using a victory by successful by 3 photographs in a Monday end.

New PAC committee members

Lanto Griffin, who has publicly criticized the PGA Tour’s transfer to smaller fields and elevated FedEx Cup factors in signature occasions, and Grayson Murray, an outspoken critic of PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, are among the many new members on the tour’s participant advisory council.

The pair have been additionally amongst 21 rank-and-file gamers who co-signed a letter despatched to the PGA Tour coverage board in December, demanding transparency and a gathering with the board’s impartial administrators to debate potential offers with Saudi Arabia’s Public Funding Fund and Strategic Sports activities Group, a consortium of billionaire sports activities workforce house owners.

Griffin informed Golfweek in November that the PAC wasn’t doing sufficient for non-stars on tour: “To have the deck stacked towards us — we’re dropping factors, cash, begins, it seems like, ‘Who’s making these choices?’ Then you will have what Jay did to us, and I do not know the way he nonetheless has his job at this level.”

Throughout a gathering on the RBC Canadian Open final 12 months, a day after the tour introduced its gorgeous alliance with the PIF and the DP World Tour, Murray went after Monahan, “We do not belief you, Jay! You lied to our face.”

The opposite PAC members are Sam Burns, Nick Hardy, Brian Harman, Max Homa, Mackenzie Hughes, Keith Mitchell, Séamus Power, Scheffler, Adam Schenk, Kevin Streelman, Nick Taylor, Josh Teater, Thomas and Camilo Villegas.



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